By Tom Markowski
Special for Second Half
EAST LANSING – Oli Carmody had been in pressure situations before, but nothing compared to what confronted the sophomore from Stevensville Lakeshore on Thursday.
With one out in a scoreless game, Carmody relieved Logan Morrow with runners on first and second base in the bottom of the ninth inning. Carmody went to 3-0 on Orchard Lake St. Mary’s leadoff hitter before retiring him on a fly to center. He got the next batter on a fly out to end the inning, and then singled in Lakeshore’s first run of a three-run 10th as the Lancers held on to defeat St. Mary’s 3-0 in a Division 2 Semifinal at Michigan State’s McLane Stadium.
Back in November, Carmody – playing his first season as goalkeeper on the soccer team – made a diving stop of a penalty kick to give Lakeshore a 2-1 victory over Plainwell in a Division 2 Regional Semifinal.
When asked which game held more importance, Carmody gave a quick response.
“It’s not even close,” he said. “Baseball is my life. This was the greatest experience of my life.
“I’ll admit that I was a little nervous (pitching in relief). When I saw I was missing high, I made adjustments. Once I got that first strike over, I got my confidence right there.”
Lakeshore (26-14) will attempt to repeat as Division 2 baseball champion when it faces Saginaw Swan Valley at 9 a.m. Saturday. Lakeshore also won Class B in 1990.
Thursday’s starting pitchers Connor Brawley of Lakeshore and Logan Wood of St. Mary’s were outstanding. Brawley allowed six hits, one walk and struck out seven in his 7 1/3 innings, and Wood went 8 2/3 and allowed two hits, three walks and struck out nine.
“It was crazy,” Brawley said. “The game flies by. I felt good out there. It was so hard (to come out). Our offense, we just compete. It’s been that way all season.”
Carmody went 1 2/3 innings to notch the victory, allowing no hits and one walk.
Catcher Bray Plomb and Cam Dalrymple started the 10th inning for Lakeshore with singles. A wild pitch put runners on second and third. Carmody singled to score the first run, and the second run scored on a wild pitch. Joel Brawley, Connor’s cousin, knocked in the third run with a bunt single.
St. Mary’s (28-13), the champion in 2015, had good chances to win the game in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings. The Eaglets had two runners in the seventh, but Connor Brawley recorded a strikeout to end the inning.
In the eighth, St. Mary’s loaded the bases and Alex Mooney lined out to right field to end the inning. In the ninth Carmody worked out of the jam to end the Eaglets’ last serious threat.
“There were many times we were against the ropes,” Lakeshore coach Mark Nate said. “They score, they win. We grinded it out.”
St. Mary’s is a young team, but coach Matt Petry gave no excuses. The Eaglets started four freshmen and four sophomores last season, so even though they have only four seniors on the roster, two of whom start, Petry said his players have been in a number of big games.
“We made the Catholic League final this year,” he said. “These guys have played in Comerica Park. We expected to make a good run in the tournament. We’re excited for the future. but today stinks. We hit the ball hard. We had runners in scoring position.”
Saginaw Swan Valley 3, DeWitt 1
Swan Valley scored three runs in the first inning, and that’s all the Vikings needed to earn their first championship game appearance since 2001, when they defeated Wyoming Park, 4-1, for the Division 2 title.
In the first frame, Swan Valley (33-8-3) loaded the bases with one out, and Easton Goldensoph was hit by a pitch to force in the first run Logan Pietz drove in the next with a single, and the third run scored on a wild pitch.
DeWitt (27-7) scored its run in the top of the sixth inning on a Jace Preston single.
Goldensoph’s brother, Avery, a freshman, went the distance for the victory. He allowed six hits, walked two and struck out five.
“We’re excited to be back,” Swan Valley first-year coach Craig Leddy said. “These kids are young. They don’t know what pressure is. They drive me crazy, they’re so loose.”
Nolan Knauf allowed just two hits in going all six innings for DeWitt. The one bad inning did him in.
“Nothing’s promised,” DeWitt coach Alan Shankel said. “Credit goes to Swan Valley. They made the plays. We were knocking on the door all game.”
PHOTOS: (Top) Stevensville Lakeshore’s Logan Morrow makes his move toward the plate in Thursday’s first Division 2 Semifinal. (Middle) Swan Valley’s Avery Goldensoph drives a pitch during the second Semifinal at McLane Stadium.
Brad Bush, a highly-respected educator, administrator and coach over the last three decades, has been selected to serve in the position of assistant director for the Michigan High School Athletic Association, beginning Jan. 17.
Bush, 52, taught and coached at East Kentwood High School for four years before beginning a tenure at Chelsea High School in 1997 that has included teaching, then serving as athletic director and later also assistant principal and leading the football program as varsity coach from 1997-2002 and again from 2004-18.
He also has served as a statewide delegate on the MHSAA Representative Council during the last year and provided leadership in multiple roles, including president, for the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association (MHSFCA) since 2005.
Bush will serve as the MHSAA’s lead administrator for baseball and also among lead administrators for the officials program, which includes more than 8,000 registered officials in all sports. Bush also will be assigned additional duties in other sports based on his vast experiences. He was selected from a pool of 34 applicants.
“I’m incredibly excited to have Brad join our team,” MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl said. "He’s been an outstanding athletic director and coach who is highly-respected by those who know him.”
As Chelsea athletic director, Bush annually has supervised a staff of 110 coaches across 31 programs, with nearly 70 percent of the high school’s 800 students participating in athletics. As a teacher and assistant principal, he has served on Chelsea’s School Improvement Team and on multiple committees that provided instructional leadership including in the development of the district’s new trimester schedule. In his roles with the MHSFCA, Bush helped direct an organization with more than 2,200 members and also served as the association’s treasurer and liaison to the MHSAA.
Bush is perhaps best known, however, for his coaching success. Over 22 seasons, he led Chelsea’s varsity football team to a 169-60 record, 13 league championships, 18 playoff appearances, seven District titles and a Division 3 runner-up finish in 2015. During his break in tenure as Chelsea coach, Bush served as an assistant football coach and recruiting coordinator for Eastern Michigan University during the 2003-04 school year, and he has served as an assistant coach at Albion College the last four seasons contributing to the team’s two league titles and appearance in the 2021 NCAA Division III Playoffs.
“I feel like joining the team at the MHSAA is an opportunity I couldn’t pass up,” Bush said. “The 26 years I spent at Chelsea were some of the best times of my life. It’s a professional transition that in the back of my mind, if this opportunity came, was something I needed to do.
“Over time, I’ve grown to care about the bigger picture of athletics and appreciate the role of the MHSAA in protecting high school athletics in Michigan.”
Bush is a 1988 graduate of Ypsilanti High School. He studied and played quarterback at Cornell University before returning and graduating from EMU after majoring in history and minoring in social studies. He earned his physical education endorsement from EMU in 2000 and his master’s in physical education and sports management from EMU in 2002. He has earned continuing education credits in sports management from Drake University and completed the Path to Leadership program from the Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals (MASSP).
Bush was inducted into MHSFCA Hall of Fame and Ypsilanti High School Hall of Fame both in 2019. He and his wife Laura have three adult children, two daughters and a son.
PHOTO Chelsea coach Brad Bush directs his team during the 2015 Division 3 Final at Ford Field.